I Know Where This One Came From ...

Mid-1930s engine full of family history

| December 2006

I have several engines in my collection, all but one of which were acquired from swap meets and auctions. For the most part, I do not know the history of these engines.

But I do know the history of my Maytag Model 72. According to the serial number, 824522, it was manufactured in October 1937. It has a Bakelite air intake cap. I understand this cap had a short life because of problems with cracking. They were only used in the early life of the Model 72.

This engine was on a square tub Maytag washing machine that my dad bought in 1938. He was fortunate enough to be working for the Shawnee County, Kan., Highway Department. Times were tough and the only way he could afford to buy it was if he could buy it on time payments. I believe the price was around $250, because my dad said he could buy a new car for the same price. I am sure he was just using that as an example of the high cost. Until this machine was purchased, my mother did all the washing with a scrub board and a plunger, and rung it out by hand.

At that time electrical power was unavailable in most of rural Kansas, so gasoline engines were in great demand. This machine was used with gasoline until 1942.

Because of World War II, we moved to Kansas City, Kan. The government built townhouses for the employees of the North American Bomber plant to rent. My mother still used the Maytag washing machine with the Model 72 engine. My dad and most of the neighbors worked the night shift at the plant and slept during the day. Because of the noise, the Maytag engine soon became unpopular.

Nonessential items, unless they were manufactured before the war, were very hard to obtain, but somehow Dad found a motor and electrified the washer and removed the gas engine.